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Scratch-Off Bookmarks


The story of these bookmarks begins with the Bookelicious Middle Grade Book Club. If you've never participated, these FREE monthly events feature a new title written for middle grade readers and focus on helping educators create meaningful connections between these books and the readers they serve. Structured, in part, as a "build your own book club" workshop, participants leave with a bunch of resources to support the work of creating student bookclubs back at school. Among these are potential "book club bins" that were inspired (in part) by Breathing New Life Into Book Clubs by Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen. These micro-collections all feature that month's book club pick as an anchor text, along with several other titles that are connected by theme, genre, format or some other element that would be easy for kids to be in conversation about. The purpose of these book lists is to provide kids with voice and choice when selecting texts for book club (or literature circle) reading. The bookmarks I'll share later in this post were created as a resource for helping kids select books in this context. However, as you'll see, I think they can be used in a zillion (approximately) other ways!


In my experience, read-alouds and book talks are powerful tools for generating book buzz among readers. And, to be clear, I believe the most effective way to sell a book to a kid is through conversation and connection. Over and over again, I've found that when kids hear us talk about story with genuine passion and excitement, that passion and excitement become contagious. As I've heard my friend Donalyn Miller say, "kids read what we bless," so whenever possible, I believe actually talking to kids about books remains the most effective reader's advisory. Still, there are times when book talking every potential title in a given list just isn't feasible. And of course, we know that different kids respond to different strategies at different moments, so finding ways to add variety to our reader's advisory tool kit is always a plus.

With all of that in mind, I created some "scratch off" bookmarks as another tool for helping readers make informed choices when selecting books for independent or book club reading. The idea is simple. Each bookmark contains a variety of information about a specific book. As kids explore each bookmark, they use that information to narrow down their selections. Then, once they've decided which book feels like the right fit, they scratch off to reveal the title.


I chose to include the following information on the bookmarks I created: A summary of the book, its genre, format and length. Then, because I created these bookmarks for the upcoming Bookelicious Middle Grade Bookclub (more on that later!) I used the "Jazzy Says" section at the bottom as a way to include a personal endorsement. Each of Jazzy's reactions are actually things that I felt about each book.

A note about the summary: while I've read all of the books included in the bookmarks I've made so far, I know that even the most voracious readers can't read <gestures at everything> ALL the books, ALL the time. Also, even when I have read a book, coming up with a 20-30 word summary that will fit on a bookmark can be time consuming, so I used Chat GPT to create these. Here are my prompts:

  • Prompt 1: "Can you make longer text more concise by summarizing it in no more than 30 words?"

  • Response: "Of course, please provide the longer text you'd like me to summarize."

  • Prompt 2: At this point, I copied/pasted the summary provided by the publisher.

  • Response: 30 word summary 1

  • Prompt 3: "Great! Please rewrite that summary on a 5th grade reading level."

  • Response: 30 word summary 2

    • In most cases, this final response wasn't perfect, but rather than regenerate it, I just tweaked it myself and then added it to the bookmark.

This process may be streamlined if you are using older books, but because Chat GPTs "knowledge" doesn't extend beyond 2022, and I chose only to include books from 2023-24, I had to provide the initial text for it to summarize.

Finally, I got the idea for using scratch-off stickers from the 5-Minute Librarian blog and (after trying a variety of different options) these are the stickers I used.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the story of these bookmarks begins with the Bookelicious Middle Grade Book Club. On March 19th, during our next meeting, I'll share 20 titles that are thematically related to this month's selection: Duel by Jessixa and Aaron Bagley. (An aside: I love this book and wrote a review of it here). I've also created a bookmark for all 20 of those titles, but you'll have to register for the event to get access to them! In the meantime, however, I also created a template, so that people can create their own "scratch-off" bookmarks, which you can access here. That said, I really think there are numerous other potential uses for this type of reader's advisory. From adding them to book displays to having kids create their own scratch-off bookmarks as a way to share titles they love with their classmates, it feels like the possibilities are endless.

I really hope you find them useful!


Finally, I want to be clear: this is not a sponsored post. Although I've mentioned Bookelicious a zillion (approximately) times, they did not ask or pay me to do so. I just love the Bookelicious Middle Grade Book Club with my whole heart and share it with anyone who will listen! So... why don't you join us on March 19th to chat about Duel? Again, these events are free! You don't have to have read the book to participate! There's a recording if you can't attend live! AND the best part is that the authors and illustrators of the books we read join us in conversation! Plus, you'll get the 20 scratch-off bookmarks I created! I mean, what could be better?

I hope to see you there!


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